No more news on money.
We went over to see the house today with our contractor, to make sure we were prepared to get going as soon as possible once the money comes in. I didn’t take any pictures because it is a complete nightmare in there. It still stinks, maybe even worse than the day of the fire. There’s mold everywhere. Drywall is cracked. All our possessions are piled in still-damp musty piles all over the place, and you can’t even stand in the kitchen because the smell of rotting food is so bad. The whole thing is super depressing.
Anyway, the good news is that we have A Plan. Our contractor understands how important it is for us to squeeze every penny out of this process, so we came up with some ideas to make the money stretch:
1) We will replace the existing carpet/linoleum/crappy wood with TILE throughout the first floor except in the master bedroom. Hardwood that would be of a high enough grade to withstand dogs and kids would be too much money. So we’re going to do a neutral tile, very tightly seamed and almost no grout. Under the rugs it should look like nice flooring, not like we live in a pizza restaurant.
2) We will replace the existing carpet with cheap hardwood upstairs where there’s little traffic. Lumber Liquidators, here we come!
3) Kitchen will be IKEA throughout – our contractor says that the quality of the IKEA cabinetry is very comparable to anything sold out of a store, and a heck of a lot cheaper. We’ll tear out as much of the kitchen as we can afford. We will get a new fridge but try to clean and rehab the stove and dishwasher (they were not included in the inventory list and we were not paid for them, so it’s not insurance fraud to keep using them). We’re planning on tearing out the wall that separates the kitchen from the dining room and replacing it with a bar-height counter so I can feed the kids on that surface and it expands our optional seating (for when we have guests) as well.
4) Basement becomes the dog area. Everything is torn out to the foundation walls and up into the ceiling, everything installed new, AKC-brand kenneling gets put in. I requested outlets on the ceiling as well as on the walls so I can hang heat lamps and plug in grooming tools. We have more money to work with in the basement because the tear-outs and replacement are because of code violations so they MUST be done.
5) We’re going to address drywall as the issues build. Right now there is no money budgeted for drywall, but the claim is still open on that. The contractor or his crew can “discover” more damage and we can try for more $$. I don’t put it in quotes because it’s fake – “discovery” is the insurance-y term for the fact that we’re not allowed to just go poking holes in drywall, but if the drywall is opened in the course of normal construction and THEN more damage is discovered, we can go back to the insurance company and demand more money to fix it. We also have a very strong suspicion that at least some of the drywall is asbestos-impregnated, which (again, if “discovered”) is a whole new ball of wax.
6) The bathroom will be totally torn out and moved back five feet into a small bedroom that is behind it (the room it will move into is the second room that was destroyed by the fire). It costs about as much to move it as it was going to cost to rebuild it, so we’re taking the opportunity now. Once again, we’ll be doing things as cheaply as possible in there. We DO lose a bedroom, which is a pain, but the bedroom was a walk-through and we never could use it very efficiently the way it was.
7) The move of the bathroom almost DOUBLES our living room space. WOOT! This was the biggest piece of good news of the day. It’s such a small house that we need to eke out every inch of usable space we possibly can. We’ll end up with three bedrooms and one bathroom for us and four kids, but every bit of space will be efficient.
8 ) We’re going to take this opportunity to paint the exterior of the house and the garage and completely pull out and re-set the dog fence and the horse-paddock-that-will-maybe-hold-a-sheep-or-something. Everything will end up looking much more clean and respectable.
IF (IF IF IF IF) everything goes well, we could be starting the demo process as soon as we get back from Kate’s house. At that point I will start updating with pictures, even though they make me look like the worst housekeeper in the world, because the transformation will be so startling. Here’s hoping we can get it all done and squeak through with enough money!